PHLHousing+ is the City of Philadelphia and PHDC’s guaranteed income pilot program. Three hundred renter households were selected from Philadelphia Housing Authority’s Housing Choice Voucher and public housing waitlist to receive a direct cash payment on a prepaid debit card every month for 2.5 years to cover a portion of the household’s housing costs. The monthly payment amount is calculated to close the gap between the housing costs they can afford – generally 30% of the household’s income – and their actual housing costs. This means monthly payment amounts will differ across households. The funds are unconditional and unrestricted. This provides a more flexible resource for participants to make their own decisions to meet their family’s needs.
Who is eligible to participate?
Participants were randomly selected from PHA’s waitlists and were asked if they wanted to participate in PHLHousing+. Participation is by invitation-only. To be eligible, invited households must earn no more than 50% of Area Median Income at the time of enrollment and have a child at or under the age of 15 in the household.
How are participants existing benefits protected?
Invited households are strongly encouraged to join benefits counseling sessions that discuss how participating in PHLHousing+ might impact other public benefits they may receive (i.e., TANF, Medicaid, SSI, SNAP or childcare subsidies). The City of Philadelphia has obtained waivers that will prevent participants from having their TANF or Medicaid benefits affected by their participation in this pilot. PHDC will also compensate participating household for the estimated loss of SNAP benefits that comes from participating in the pilot program.
The research partners at University of Pennsylvania will survey and interview participants to understand their experience. An additional 900 households from the waitlist will be invited to participate in a series of surveys conducted by University of Pennsylvania researchers. Their experiences will then be compared to those receiving cash assistance. The results will be used to contribute to the national conversation around the effects of rental assistance and direct cash assistance programs on the well-being of children and families.
If a participating household is offered a housing voucher or Public Housing unit while participating in PHLHousing+, they can withdraw from the pilot to accept the voucher or unit. Participants can withdraw at any time for any reason.
Funding for this pilot comes from a combination of public and philanthropic sources, including the Neighborhood Preservation Initiative bond proceeds, Housing Trust Fund, PHFA, William Penn Foundation, Spring Point Partners, Stoneleigh Foundation, and Mayors for Guaranteed Income.
Program partners: Housing Initiative at Penn, Center for Guaranteed Income Research, The City of Philadelphia’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity (CEO), and Mayor’s Policy Office, Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank & Philadelphia Housing Authority.
Questions? Email PHLHousingPlus@phila.gov for more information.